The rhetoric about formula feeding - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 173 Old 03-29-2008, 10:08 PM
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Ok... here my 2cents

As a lactivist I see my role being that of touting the benefits of breastmilk NOT one of bashing formula feeding.

I think approaching lactivism in a positive manner ie spreading the word, providing support and information to mothers will advance the cause much more quickly than wringing out guilty feelings from other women.

As a woman and feminist I try not to judge what another woman does with HER body. If that means formula feeding, that is HER choice. I am not going to say anything to her about it.

Educating people of companies like Nestle that force formulafeeding on women in third world countries is something however, I do and would get vocal about .... Then I would use the emotive terms of "murderers" etc....
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#62 of 173 Old 03-29-2008, 10:29 PM
 
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These discussions always remind me of an echo chamber. 'Round and 'round we go talking about how we talk to other moms and how other moms talk to us, and debating what counts as "bashing" and "guilt-mongering" vs. what is factual and true.

Let's break out of the echo chamber. I've posted in other similar threads here that lactivism isn't really about persuading mothers to breastfeed; it's about changing the culture and society to make breastfeeding easier. So instead of talking about how a FFing mother might feel if she reads the MDC lactivism forum, we should be talking about what language will make the most effective messages in letters to editors, elected representatives, healthcare professionals, corporate managers, etc. -- what phrasing would be most effective in billboards and TV spots -- what approaches would be most effective in banning the bags, reforming childbirth practices, pushing for longer/paid maternity leave for all mothers, getting breastfeeding into health-education curriculums, etc.
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#63 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 12:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by amitymama View Post
That's always bothered me too. The language seems purposefully inflammatory.
I disagree that 4th berst is purposely inflammatory - it makes the point that just because mom can't nurse her baby right now, the next step isn't always formula. It serves as a reminder that pumping and donor milk are superior to formula and that they should be considered before being disacarded.

As someone who has actually had a NICU ped say "EWW" when we suggested donor milk, I know it needs to be underlined.

Michelle, mama to Isabelle (03/04) and Tom (02/07)
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#64 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 12:08 AM
 
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Originally Posted by miche28 View Post
I disagree that 4th berst is purposely inflammatory - it makes the point that just because mom can't nurse her baby right now, the next step isn't always formula. It serves as a reminder that pumping and donor milk are superior to formula and that they should be considered before being disacarded.

~Marie : Mom to DS(11), DS(10), DD(8), DD(4), DD(2), & Happily Married to DH 12 yrs.!
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#65 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 12:34 AM
 
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I've enjoyed reading this thread a lot. Thanks OP. I am a ff-er and I don't feel guilty for it at all because I know what I experienced and the decision I made after trying desperately to get bm into my dd. (although sometimes I feel like I should be wearing a scarlet "F" around here ) I don't really care if people think I took the easy way out when they see me in public or even read a post on MDC about me ff-ing. I know I did not. Yeah, I hate that my daughter is getting inferior nutrition, but the alternative was not worth it to me and our family.

Just a word about guilt though. I think it is a very complex emotion. I do not think it is usually productive. It can be, yes. When people are emotionally ok enough to examine why they feel guilty about something, if that guilt is valid or self-imposed based on faulty thinking, etc then yeah, guilt can be productive. A lot of times though it is just paralyzing and keeps people from being able to be rational. Just a thought.

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#66 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 12:50 AM
 
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Oh yeah, and

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Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
You know, everyone throws around that Eleanor Roosevelt quote as if it came down from on high and should be taken as Truth with a capital T. And while it's pithy, I don't find it particularly accurate, Can a person literally force you to feel guilty? Of course not. But neither should we pretend that words don't have an effect, and that we often choose our words for maximum impact. When mothers on either side throw around words like "selfish" or "poison" or "disgusting" they're certainly trying to get some sort of reaction out of their audience. When the other mother then rises to the bait, we throw up our hands and say "Hey, I can't MAKE you feel guilty." That has always seemed extremely disingenuous to me.
!!!!

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#67 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 12:51 AM
 
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As someone who has actually had a NICU ped say "EWW" when we suggested donor milk, I know it needs to be underlined.
Yes, and I think this comment makes a very important point -- that we consider the context and audience for stuff like WHO recommendations.

The World Health Organization is primarily speaking to governments and healthcare systems in everything that it writes. So its recommendations about the order of preference for breastfeeding, mother's EBM, donor milk, and ABM are aimed not directly at mothers to guilt-trip them into pumping instead of giving formula (for example) but to encourage institutional structures and policies that will make EBM or donor milk feasible options.

Essentially, I'm going so far as to argue that the WHO recommendations are not designed with moms in mind as the target audience. Rather, they are designed for governments and other power structures at every level to use in building breastfeeding into things like daycare requirements, NICU procedures, maternity leave provisions, the architecture of public space, etc etc. If our own government heeded these recommendations, then the MDC lactivism forum would hear a LOT fewer horror stories about, for example, daycares treating a hardworking mother's EBM like toxic waste.

Consider the audience, is what I'm saying. Let's stop acting like the echo chamber of mommy message-boards is the point of lactivism.
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#68 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 01:21 AM
 
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double post

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#69 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 01:22 AM
 
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Originally Posted by songbh View Post
These discussions always remind me of an echo chamber. 'Round and 'round we go talking about how we talk to other moms and how other moms talk to us, and debating what counts as "bashing" and "guilt-mongering" vs. what is factual and true.

Let's break out of the echo chamber. I've posted in other similar threads here that lactivism isn't really about persuading mothers to breastfeed; it's about changing the culture and society to make breastfeeding easier. So instead of talking about how a FFing mother might feel if she reads the MDC lactivism forum, we should be talking about what language will make the most effective messages in letters to editors, elected representatives, healthcare professionals, corporate managers, etc. -- what phrasing would be most effective in billboards and TV spots -- what approaches would be most effective in banning the bags, reforming childbirth practices, pushing for longer/paid maternity leave for all mothers, getting breastfeeding into health-education curriculums, etc.
Yes!

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#70 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 01:23 AM
 
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As a FF'er, first daughter by choice and ignorance and second daughter out of absolute medical neccessity, I'm going to chime in with a few things I haven't shared here.

1. Yes, I read the Lactivist forum. Why? Because issues regarding breastfeeding in public, normalizing biologically correct infant feeding, and changing the status quo are important to me.
The same reasons most are here. But you know why else? Because I feel so damn bad. Guilty. Selfish. I read here and get to live vicariously through the women who DID succeed. I get to imagine bf'ing my two girls, having that amazing bond, and succeeding in normalizing that relationship to all I came across.

2. I know many, many a ff'ing mom who feels exactly as above.

3. I know the reason I get so defensive about ff'ing: it's being told, repeatedly, that my child is getting 'inferior' nutrition. I KNOW THIS. Like many of you said, it's FACT. So, why then, does it need to be thrown in the face of a ff'ing mom? Trust me, the majority of us are aware of the simple truth that it is inferior nutrition in comparison to breastmilk. So, when once again, things like "inferior" and "4th best" come up, it doesn't seem like it's being said "in the name of honesty" or "to be helpful". It feels demeaning, demoralizing, insulting... it feels like a dig, it feels like one is being talked down to, being treated like they're stupid, because, as stated before: the majority of women I know KNOW that formula is not as good as breastmilk, KNOW it's a substandard substitute.

However, does the fact that I FF my children mean I'm not a lactivist? I don't think so. I personally promoted and helped facilitate an exclusive breastfeeding relationship for DH's friend's wife, which is still going strong at 9 weeks and she has no intention of stopping. I personally exposed her to breastfeeding longer than 6 months or 1 year... before talking with me, she didn't even know that was a possibility. And I personally helped her overcome her struggles with breastfeeding in public and the feeling that she "should pump into bottles, because no one wants to see that".

But, because I was a ff'ing mom, I feel like I'm completely unwelcome in the lactivism board, despite it all. That, plus the guilt, is enough to make one shut down and just stop trying. And I feel like that's what happens to a lot of moms.
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#71 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 01:29 AM
 
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It is also factually substandard.
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#72 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 01:52 AM
 
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3. I know the reason I get so defensive about ff'ing: it's being told, repeatedly, that my child is getting 'inferior' nutrition. I KNOW THIS. Like many of you said, it's FACT. So, why then, does it need to be thrown in the face of a ff'ing mom? Trust me, the majority of us are aware of the simple truth that it is inferior nutrition in comparison to breastmilk. So, when once again, things like "inferior" and "4th best" come up, it doesn't seem like it's being said "in the name of honesty" or "to be helpful". It feels demeaning, demoralizing, insulting... it feels like a dig, it feels like one is being talked down to, being treated like they're stupid, because, as stated before: the majority of women I know KNOW that formula is not as good as breastmilk, KNOW it's a substandard substitute.
first, i'm sorry you feel like you aren't welcome around the lactivist forum. i think FF moms can be lactivists, too--of course! just like c-section moms like me can be natural birth advocates

second, i've no doubt that YOU know formula is 4th best. but i agree with PP--the "4th best" wording isn't to make you feel stupid. it's to underscore the fact that there are, or should be, options between a baby BFing straight from his mother's breast every feeding and being fed formula every feeding.

there are still lots of people who not only do not know about combo feeding or donors, but are told by their docs that formula is really close to breast milk, there's not much of a difference, etc., etc. i run into people who have been told this very often. they think breast milk is only very marginally better because they have been told so--and no one has bothered to tell them the truth.

so it's great that you are well-educated on this issue, but lots of women are not. and IMO that's where explaining that breast milk really, truly is the norm, and formula is really, truly inferior or "4th best", can be handy.

dissertating wife of Boo, mama of one "mookie" lovin' 2 year old girl! intactlact:: CTA until 7/10 FF 1501dc
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#73 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 01:54 AM
 
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Tact does NOT mean sugar coating; it means relating to a person in a way that leaves them receptive to what you're saying, no matter what it is you're telling them.
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#74 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 01:56 AM
 
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If she "doesn't have a choice" she shouldn't feel badly.
But that isn't what happens. Perhaps it "should" be, but it's not.

Knowing that something is the "best choice for YOUR child" and not for the majority of the world, just plain doesn't make you feel "okay" with it.

Or at least, it doesn't make people who would feel badly about it, okay with it.

If that even makes any sense.
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#75 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 02:07 AM
 
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But that isn't what happens. Perhaps it "should" be, but it's not.

Knowing that something is the "best choice for YOUR child" and not for the majority of the world, just plain doesn't make you feel "okay" with it.

Or at least, it doesn't make people who would feel badly about it, okay with it.

If that even makes any sense.
Makes perfect sense to me!
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#76 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 03:28 AM
 
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I don't know how I feel about the 4th best thing, but I don't know if inferior is the right word. Yes, it isn't nearly as good as breastmilk is, and never will be, but using terms like breastmilk substitute can get the point across without sounding mean. BM substitute, IMO, is probably the best thing to say because it makes the implication that formula is nowhere near where bm is and normalizes bf at the same time. It also calls it what it is and should be: a substitute.
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#77 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 07:34 AM
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I had never heard the term "4th best" until this thread. hmmm.... Seems confusing and a little insulting to me.
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Here is the WHO Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding section on "Exercising Other Feeding Options". I thought it might be helpful to put the "4th choice" into context.

Quote:
Exercising other feeding options
18. The vast majority of mothers can and should breastfeed, just as the vast majority of infants can and should be breastfed. Only under exceptional circumstances can a mother’s milk be considered unsuitable for her infant. For those few health situations where infants cannot, or should not, be breastfed, the choice of the best alternative – expressed breast milk from an infant’s own mother, breast milk from a healthy wet-nurse or a human-milk bank, or a breast-milk substitute fed with a cup, which is a safer method than a feeding bottle and teat – depends on individual circumstances.
I'd like to see us work towards a world where formula is used as it was first intended, as a lifesaving nutritional substance for situations where infants cannot be breastfed. How are we going to get there?
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#79 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 10:54 AM
 
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I stand by my post that calling formula "4th best" is inflammatory. I understand the need to get more info about pumping and donor milk out there but it doesn't have to be termed so that it seems like it's been judged in a beauty pageant and formula came in dead last, while breastmilk straight from the breast is wearing a tiara and waving at the adoring crowds, ya know?

What about '4th option'? That way it still makes people stop and think about what the first three are but also doesn't feel insulting to those who already use formula, for whatever reason. Also, it doesn't incite that loss of choice that so many ff'ing women talk about -- that they felt like breastfeeding was "crammed down their throats" and they were given no choices. I think feeling that we have a lack of choices or that we will be judged if we don't make the correct and superior one can lead many people to dig their heels in and refuse to try anything else because they feel their personal freedom to choose is being threatened.

'4th option' is still very effective but less inflammatory.

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#80 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 10:55 AM
 
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i'd just like to throw in my thoughts on lactivism (which I believe others have already posted as well). Sure, if a woman WANTS advice on breastfeeding from me, I'll give it, but I would never walk up to a bottle feeding woman that I don't know and assume that I know her, know anything about her, etc. Sure, I will talk to my pregnant friends and try to promote breastfeeding in a nonjudgmental way. But I really do think that lactivism is about culture change. Until we can live in a society where women aren't shamed for nursing in public, told that they need to stop nursing their kids at a certain age because after that is weird, given copious amounts of misinformation by professionals, and we are all exposed to breastfeeding rather than bottlefeeding as the norm, we will still be fighting this battle.


Sure, education on an individual level is great when there is opportunity, but knowing that breast is best and having the knowledge to back that statement up does not give anyone the right to pass judgment on someone else's situation that they may know nothing about. That said, it is fact that formula is not as good for babies as breast milk. I think in order to educate on a systems level, people do need to be aware of this. But I don't think it's appropriate to walk up to a woman in a mall and talk to her about the bottle she's giving her kid. I'd much rather walk up to a woman NIP at the mall and thank her for doing that.

And I'd rather challenge systems that encourage formula feeding rather than the moms actually doing the ff. I know there are plenty of moms that do have all the information and do choose to ff, but there are plenty out there that don't. It's a public health rather than an individual health issue.
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#81 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 11:03 AM
 
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I dislike "substitute" - makes it sound just as good. It cannot simply substitute BM, with all things remaining equal. It is substandard, it is inferior. No need to internalize those words.

~Marie : Mom to DS(11), DS(10), DD(8), DD(4), DD(2), & Happily Married to DH 12 yrs.!
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#82 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 11:28 AM
 
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I think those terms ("inferior" or "4th best") are neither negative nor derogatory. They are simply facts. One should not be offended by factual information. I am not one to "bash" FFing moms openly...but that doesn't change what IS. And formula IS those things.
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#83 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 11:42 AM
 
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THIS is what I've been trying to say!

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#84 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 11:44 AM
 
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It's a public health rather than an individual health issue.
Bingo. Well said.

Also: I am always sorry to hear of browbeating strangers approaching mothers in grocery stores etc. I am sure that such behavior by whoever is rude or socially maladjusted enough to do that is counterproductive and harmful to the cause of lactivism.

However, I get really tired of these anecdotes being raised as evidence of how clear discussion of the risks of not breastfeeding is a bad idea. Busybody jerks in grocery stores (or on internet forums) are not lactivists -- they are busybody jerks with boundary issues.

It seems to me if a person is committed to the cause of increasing breastfeeding rates by removing societal obstacles and promoting the dissemination of accurate and reliable information and support for women who want to breastfeed ... that person, regardless of her own infant feeding history, will be able to look past her unfortunate encounters with busybody jerks and see the broader picture of the movement and the societies it is trying to change.
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#85 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 02:14 PM
 
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I have two entirely different thoughts about this, which I guess I'll put in two different posts:

I think there's a difference between guilt and grief. I don't have an iota of guilt about FFing my child. It was the right choice for us (and yes, although I'm definitely in the category that most people would call "not having a choice" I'm going to stick with saying that we made the right choice). I do however have grief -- grief that we weren't able to experience this beautiful thing, grief that he he experienced early health problems that might have been lessened if donor milk had been realistically available.

Similarly, I'm looking into special needs adoption for my second child. Let's say I adopt a child with Down Syndrome. I will probably not feel guilty that my child has DS (and neither should parents who give birth to a DS child by the way, I just mentioned adoption because that's the way I become a parent) but I am sure that there will be times when we encounter bumps in the road, whether it's prejudice, or worries about his future, or things he wants to do that he isn't able to do and I will feel grief -- grief that my child has a more difficult road to travel.

I think even in the most clearcut of cases (and our was pretty clearcut that FF was the right choice) whether it's galactosemia, or PKU, or a child whose lost his mother and is being raised by Dad, where the choice seems clear, a parent who strongly believes in BF is likely to feel grief.
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#86 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 02:29 PM
 
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And here's my second thought.

Imagine that I made a nice long list of choices for feeding and put them in order like this, including every combination of Mama's milk and Formula, donor, homemade, storebought, fed via the breast or in a bottle or a lactaid or a cup or feeding tube. It would be a pretty long list that might look something like this:

1) Exclusive Breast Feeding, straight from the child's biological mother
2) A combination of breast feeding, and expressed milk from the child's mother fed in a cup.
. . .
5) Breast feeding with a tiny amount of supplementation given in a lactaid
. . .
10) Organic milk based formula given in a cup (and I'm not sure that the WHO's argument that cup are safer than bottles applies in affluent Western countries)

15) Regular milk based formula fed via a glass bottle by the infant's mother wholding the baby in her arms.

. . .

25) Regular soy based based formula fed via a glass bottle by a combination of the infant's parents and substitute care givers who hold the child in their arms.

- - -


100) Some kind of substandard homemade formula (I'm not saying all homemade formulas are substandard vs. regular formula, just imagine that this one is), fed by an NG tube to a baby left lying awake by themselves.

Now imagine that I went about boasting that "I feed my child in a manner that's in the top 10th%ile!" Or "Ten out of 100 is pretty darn good". I'd be manipulating the statistics to make my point -- don't you agree? Well I feel the same way about the "4th best" rhetoric, even though I agree with the sentiment behind it (that in the vast majority of situations, breastmilk is the best choice, and that if getting it straight from Mom isn't an option, look for other ways to get it before you consider formula) -- Heck you could make it "5th best" by adding in Mama's who nurse AND pump between 1 and 2, or 6th best by adding Mama's who BF and supplement in there.

I guess that's why I think the 4th best rhetoric is unfair or misleading. In my mind there are two safe choices -- breastmilk and formula. One is definitely better than the other, and should be the first choice. Making artificial divisions between kinds of breastmilk or methods of delivery, but not making the same choices between kinds of formula or methods of delivery is just playing with the statistics.
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I think there's a difference between guilt and grief. I don't have an iota of guilt about FFing my child. It was the right choice for us (and yes, although I'm definitely in the category that most people would call "not having a choice" I'm going to stick with saying that we made the right choice). I do however have grief -- grief that we weren't able to experience this beautiful thing, grief that he he experienced early health problems that might have been lessened if donor milk had been realistically available.
I agree and can relate totally. I've often thought that people probably mistake my lack of guilt for lack of grief and that's just not true. Hell, I'm seeing a counselor for the grief I've experienced over our situation. But I don't feel guilty for the decision I made in light of our situation.

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In my mind there are two safe choices -- breastmilk and formula. One is definitely better than the other, and should be the first choice. Making artificial divisions between kinds of breastmilk or methods of delivery, but not making the same choices between kinds of formula or methods of delivery is just playing with the statistics.
I understand what you are saying, but I would argue that there are 3 safe options: mother's own breastmilk, donor breastmilk, and formula. I think that by ignoring donor milk we minimize an option, that with governmental support for milk banks, would be a possibility for mothers who can't breastfeed, but babies who can have breastmilk.
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#89 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 03:19 PM
 
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I understand what you are saying, but I would argue that there are 3 safe options: mother's own breastmilk, donor breastmilk, and formula. I think that by ignoring donor milk we minimize an option, that with governmental support for milk banks, would be a possibility for mothers who can't breastfeed, but babies who can have breastmilk.
I guess I see breastmilk, and donor breastmilk as no more different than milk formula and soy formula, or formula via SNS vs formula via bottle. If you look at that way there are LOTS of ways to feed a baby.

I get the 4th best thing as a way of saying "consider donor milk before moving to formula", it just seems like a manipulative way to say it. If people want to say "Consider donor milk before moving to formula" why don't they just say it like that.

I think that the 4th best thing is one of those things that "demonizes" formula to the point where people post about wanting to put their 6 month old on goats milk, or make their own formula out of liver, or do other unsafe things because they believe that formula is bad. Formula's not bad, it's just not the norm, or the ideal. It's a second choice when the normal thing to feed your baby isn't an option.
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#90 of 173 Old 03-30-2008, 03:39 PM
 
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I guess I see breastmilk, and donor breastmilk as no more different than milk formula and soy formula, or formula via SNS vs formula via bottle.
This is where we differ

I see donor milk ask vastly different from a mother breastfeeding her infant. I see it as something that would be used when a mother was not able to breastfeed her child, and ideally it wouldn't have to be used often because women would receive support to be able to breastfeed (on a societal, as well as personal level.)

Rather than "consider donor milk before moving to formula", I would like to see donor milk as the norm for mothers who are unable to breastfeed - that is, not a consideration, but the "go-to" option. Obviously this is not reality at the moment, which is why, if we as a society are going to move that way, I feel it needs to be a clearly defined option when when a mom doesn't have enough milk, or is unable to breastfeed. Which is why I don't see donor milk and mom's milk as the same thing.
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